The Lord will help you prioritize your list of things to do as you humbly approach Him in prayer and act on the promptings you receive from the Holy Ghost. But before going to the Lord in prayer, “you must study it out in your mind" (D&C 9:8) and put forth the effort to manage your time. One practical tool you can use to manage your time is the Time Management Matrix.
The Time Management Matrix organizes tasks into four quadrants based on the importance and urgency of the activity, as shown in the grid below.
These four quadrants of time management are adapted from Franklin Covey's Habit 3: Put First Things First.
Organizing your tasks into these quadrants will help you see the immediate and long-term value of how you are using your time. Understanding the characteristics of each quadrant will help you use this tool to be a better steward of your time.
Quadrant 1: Urgent-Important (The Procrastinator). These are the pressing tasks and necessary daily activities that can easily take over your life. The tasks in this quadrant are characterized by project deadlines, meetings, cooking, cleaning, and emergencies. If you spend all your time in this quadrant, you’ll never get ahead in life. People in this quadrant put off investing their time in others and themselves because they are too busy to improve. If you spend too much time in this quadrant, you’ll start to feel burned out and stressed.
Quadrant 2: Not Urgent-Important (The Visionary). This is the quadrant that you want to spend the most time because it is where you invest time in yourself and others. Your enrollment in this program proves that you are willing to spend time in this quadrant despite your busy schedule. Items in this quadrant are usually long-term investments that pay off over time. These activities are easy to dismiss because they don’t have deadlines, and often don’t appear to have immediate benefits. People in quadrant two can be described as visionaries because of their ambitious approach to life. Examples of quadrant 2 activities include some of the following: education, diet and exercise, goal planning, time management, and taking time to invest in relationships. People in this quadrant feel like they are making progress in life and that they are making a difference.
Quadrant 3: Urgent-Not Important (The Yes-Man). Quadrant three activities rob us of our productivity and long-term success. Items in this quadrant feel important at the time, but after some reflection can be seen as a waste of time. They are typified by The Yes-Man because people in this category allow others to disregard their own sense of what is important. Examples include accepting invitations to meetings that you don’t really need to attend, constantly checking your email, or allowing interruptions like phone calls to distract you from what matters most. Spending time in this area can leave you feeling like a victim who doesn’t have control over your life.
Quadrant 4: Not Urgent-Not Important (The Slacker). You can quickly spend more time in this quadrant than you realize. You may want to consider using a program to help track your time on electronic devices so that you become aware of how much time you spend on things like social media. Not everything in this category is useless. A little time spent here can be a great reward and provide some needed time to relax, but spending too much time here can rob our life of purpose and meaning.
Ponder and Record
Consider the material above then answer the following questions and record some of your thoughts in your Learning Journal:
- How can using the Time Management Matrix provide God more opportunities to give you insights on how to be a good steward?
- How can you spend more of your time in Quadrant 2?